Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: January 29, 2011 05:58AM
I find the discussions about the doctrine and beliefs of the Living Word Fellowship quite informative. They help answer the
questions many ex-members ask themselves, like "Why the heck did I get involved with this group? What did we really
believe and why did I fall for it?" It might seem like nit-picking about theology, but for many of us - it is helpful therapy
and part of the healing process.
Now, to address your questions. Let me take a stab at it:
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader:
points 1 and 2: Both the current leadership and the original founder were quite authoritarian in nature. It is their way, or the highway.
Many of us were removed from the fellowship when we questioned some of the practices being conducted. The current leadership
claims they are accountable to a few certain pastors that are their "designated relationships". But in reality, these other
pastors are so loyal that they would never have the guts to say "no" to them or attempt to correct them. Those that have,
were removed from their positions in the fellowship. They only play lip-service to "accountability".
3. While most of the accounting books are open to the congregants, salary information is typically not.
4. In the past, the LW has used the fear of the end-time as a way to hold members to the group. Thankfully this
practice has tapered off quite a bit. There is also a fear cast that a member that leaves the group will be
out from under the "covering of divine order" and thus open to assault from Satan, or other catastrophes - evil
in nature, or possibly even the dealings of God. This fear keeps some in close.
5. People that exit the fellowship are often labeled as "blow outs". It is said that they couldn't cut it, or
were deceived by Satan. If a person leaves, it is often said that that person chose a path of lower calling.
6. If you read the posts on FactNet you will hear similar stories. Maybe not outright physical abuse, but
certainly spiritual abuse. Those in leadership roles used their power at times, in an improper manner.
There are multiple accounts of this, some of them recent.
7. There are some news stories about this group, especially when the group was bigger. But the LW has been
doing a lot to bring positive stories to the media as well. Point 7 is not a strong point.
8. The nature of the teaching encourage people to "press-in" to being perfect. Because of this, there is little
tolerance for contentment. Members are not to be passive or satisfied with the status-quo. Because of this,
most members carry a sense of "not measuring up" or of not being good enough. This make them dependent on the leadership
and the Apostolic word to give them their sense of security and the next hint for the next stop in moving closer
to perfection. This practice, more than anything else at the LW, is probably the most destructive and damaging
to a person sense of self-worth and individuality. It is emotionally and mentally unhealthy.
9. It's their way or the highway. If you don't believe this, just try dissenting with them.
10. Members of the LW are encouraged to regard the "Apostolic Word" as equal to the bible and to regard the
sermons as the word of God. The is true for both the current sermons and the old books and "This Weeks".
Young adults often are encouraged to only listen to the current word and not to read a Bible, as only the
current word is capable of opening up the Bible to them. They are taught that without the Apostolic Word
to guide them, reading the Bible is not fruitful.
Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader:
1. There are some LW congregants that are obsessed with serving the leadership - at all costs to their personal lives.
Some become bankrupt from doing this, but are not discouraged from doing it by the leadership.
2. It is often taught that if you learned to think like the leader (MH) you would have her thinking, and that
her thinking was God's thinking. She was the "Lamp of Israel" and was the incarnation of Christ on the earth.
In backroom meetings, it is assumed that the leader's word is the word of God. Many believe that the founding
father was "Christ" reincarnated for this age. He was thought to be the first of Christ returning in many
members. A subtle point, but one that gives the leadership excessive power over others.
3. If the leadership is questioned, it is said that the person doing the questioning is under the influence
of darkness and has a "critical spirit". The suggestion is that this person is flawed in doing this.
4. This point was really obvious in the 70's. Probably not so much currently.
5. The leadership or your "designated relationship" is the person you are to run everything by. You are
discourage from making your own decisions. If you do, you are labeled an "independent" spirit, which in
this group has negative connotations. Many ex-members, upon leaving the fellowship have an adjustment
period where they have to learn to make their own decisions and trust their own intelligence for personal
matters. Intelligence was often discouraged. Advanced degrees from colleges are deemed as a negative
thing by many in the LW leadership.
6. There is always something going on. There's always some new campaign or "push" for something. Congregants
have little time for their own pursuits. Hobbies are not encouraged, and in the past, considered bad.
Teenagers often sacrifice school work for being at the church, working on church projects.
7. This is not a point with the LW Fellowship. Plenty of humor there.
8. When the original founder was alive, this isolation from the family was in place. Young adults who lived in
communal homes were encouraged to break contact with their families and old friends. This is not as strong, now,
however, if a congregant has a family member that disagrees with the doctrine of the LW, the congregant is encouraged
to not communicate with this member, so they will not be "contaminated" by this family member's "deception".
9. Actions by leaders are often justified as being "led by the Lord". Even when it is removing funds from someone,
having an affair or encouraging a couple to divorce.
10. see point 3. above. Those that leave are often regarded as falling away, or being led by Satan. They had
a saying: "If you are not with us, you are against us".....meaning you were with satan.
I know a lot of this material has been re-hashed before. Maybe it's good to have it in one place. For those of
you still in the fellowship that are reading this. I encourage you to do your own research. Find out why
the majority of opinion out there is that the LWF is a cult. As someone once said, "If it walks like a duck
and it quacks like a duck....just just might be a duck."